Friday, December 4, 2020
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Anxiety Of Our Times

Anxiety levels are on the rise more than any other time, but what is anxiety exactly and what can we do about it?

The age of anxiety is a virus that has long loomed over the best of us, and has stricken anyone who has cared to look its way. Without depressing us anymore than we already are, I do think about the consequences of this current vortex in time. The news that surrounds us is already smouldering us with its fear and proximity, and so I do not want to fester on a narrative that is so difficult to digest. I would rather like to take a look at anxiety in this current time and turn it on its head.

So what is anxiety?

Anxiety is different from depression, anxiety is rather an over stimulation, rather than an under stimulation. If depression is the void, anxiety is the opposite and the hyper. It is no surprise people with high blood pressure are diagnosed with hyper-tension. And often with hyper personalities to boot. Alcohol, red faces, highly strung, and the red flag of warning before the charge. A bottle a day does not keep the doctor away. 

However, anxiety is a little more complex than being highly strung, and being administered with blood medication. It is an over stimulus in its extreme-but I think this is where it stems from. And taking me back to my psychology days…an over stimulation of the amygdala. The amygdala is in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain and it is responsible for much of the emotional feelings we associate with our day to day. They say that psychopaths have an under-active amygdala-literally unable to feel emotion, and therefore capable of such acts as murder.

People who have grown up in chaotic environments are susceptible to an overactive amygdala-its common sense to be sensitive to the changes around you. And maybe this makes you a sensitive type. But when does it become anxiety? 

Anxiety Is Stress Unregulated 

Most people know they have experienced anxiety at some point, come on, it’s part of fight or flight. Its part of life. We all have to be able to feel stress of some regard because without it, we would not be able to react or make any changes. It is somewhat crucial, although I’d rather forgo it most days. So this must be stress, and stress is healthy when in balance. It can be referenced to the notion of adaptation. Our bodies must have some kind of stressor to stay balanced. Without it, our bodies weaken. Crazy, isn’t it. 

This is the psychology behind cold showers, exercise, and even alcohol being good for you. Yes, that which is not good for you, is good for you-in moderation.  After exercise, the body strengthens, and as they say: 

‘What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger’

Anxiety is Fear Inexperienced 

So, is anxiety a dilemma of the over stimulated or the under stimulated with a lack of adaptation? Perhaps both. When we live such comfortable lives for the most part, Covid or any change for that matter is alarming. And we really do live such comfortable lives. Our grandparents didn’t have it this easy, and they had to deal with war. My grandfather was even evacuated out of Newcastle at 7 years old, can you imagine how traumatic that would have been?

We have it so good these days, the kids are practically wrapped in cotton wool. I was looking after my brother at 12, had my first job the year later and moved out by 17. Now, you would be ‘mature’ if you had a job before university. 

But this is the 21st century; kids are overprotected and people are used to convenience. Even though Covid did not prevent a square meal from landing on the table before me, despite the panic it would; it’s an anxious time.

A lot of us don’t know if we will still have our jobs in a month’s time when furlough ends, and the future seems precarious more than it did 2 months ago. Officially in a second wave, we all have to adapt to a restricted future, and what will that mean? These conditions alone are enough to have anyone feeling anxious, but for some-anxiety is already a common occurrence. 

Anxiety is a fear of the unknown, and we are experiencing this like some almighty abduction-we have had it so good for so long, most of us don’t know what to do with ourselves. We can’t even go to other people’s households. This is insane. This is Scotland! Home of the house party!

It goes without saying that Tuesday’s news was an extremely anxious announcement to hear. I was not sure what to expect, and sure enough, this was the pinnacle point. Even listening to Nicola Sturgeon on the TV would give you anxiety. But when I think about it, anxiety is a fear of the unknown. We cannot control everything that happens to us, but we can control our reaction.

I did feel a sadness on contemplating the news: we can no longer visit other households for the time being, but my anxiety or depression will not change anything. But my attitude to it will.

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